Senior Centers: The Foundation for Prevention Programs

Researchers claim no need to start a new program devoted to teaching chronic disease prevention if the infrastructure of a state aging service already exists.


Certain services, which include senior centers that offer exercise and recreation, already have the staff and volunteers to deliver programs, track attendance, and record outcomes, say researchers from University of Pittsburgh.

To assess how well such infrastructure can support prevention efforts, the University of Pittsburgh CDC Prevention Research Center partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging APPRISE program to deliver the 10 Keys to Healthy Aging program.

APPRISE is a Medicare counseling program offered at senior centers as part of the state health insurance program. The 10 Keys Program is a series of workshops that cover the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines and other evidence-based recommendations. The “keys” are risk prevention strategies for behavioral change in areas including blood pressure control, glucose control, smoking cessation, immunizations, and screening.

The program grew from 93 participants in pilot year 2013 to 694 in 2016. During the study period, 1,534 people attended at ≥ 1 workshop; 1,044 (68%) completed > 8 Keys workshops, and 736 completed both the pretest and posttest.

The program was effective; the researchers say: Correct answers on the prevention knowledge quiz rose from 61.5% to 78.5%. In monthly follow-up with 147 respondents over 6 months, maintenance of prevention behaviors was strong in the areas of physical activity and hypertension management, and significantly higher for people who completed more Keys workshops.

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